Chapter 5


"Well, I do want my summer home back! Perhaps your errand boys should have simply taken the entire enchanted object and brought IT rather than remove the chest and leave my home behind." Skadi was less then pleased at the method of retrieval her fellow goddess had devised for the missing property. This would
not do at all. "Send them back for my home, and do stop that smirking, Hlin," she ordered.


Joyce jumped when the phone next to her rang. She hadn't really slept the last few nights and had only fallen into an exhausted nap minutes before.

"Is this the home of Buffy Summers?" The young sounding voice asking was not familiar to Joyce. "Yes, I'm her mother, do you know where she is? Is she there with you," Joyce asked breathlessly.

"I work at the music box store at the mall and I found your daughters purse last night when I closed up. I expected it to be gone by today. Picked up, you know. I'd appreciate it if you'd tell your daughter we have her purse here for her to pick up anytime we're open," she said.

"My daughter is missing. Please, what did you see? Did you see her? Did she speak to you? Where is she?" Joyce asked the girl her questions in rapid fire, her voice desprate.

"I'm sorry, all I saw is this purse in the back section of the store under a table. I really am sorry and wish I could help, Mrs. Summers," she said sadly.

"Wait," cried Joyce, "What's your name? What is the store name again and do you have a security camera there," she asked.


A short two hours later the Scoobies gathered to see what, if anything, the videotapes Joyce had begged from the store might reveal.

Willow had enhanced the images as much as possible and still it made no sense. There was Buffy and then Spike; a woman knocked into Buffy, then she and Spike seemed to bend down and disappear.

The picture had a lot of static at that point, but you could still see well enough to know that they just disappeared. It wasn't much, but it was their first clue.

"I'm glad Spike was there, at least I know Buffy will be alright till we find her," Dawn said in relief. Joyce nodded in agreement.

"I just don't get how anyone can get a warm fuzzy at the idea of Buffy and Spike even in the same sentence," said Xander. "I mean, evil vampire, remember?" He looked around the table for the expected validation of his attitude.

"Oh he hasn't been truly evil in a long while and he is trying so hard to change," said Joyce. "I am with Dawn on this one. It is better for Buffy to be with someone who cares about her than to think of her alone out there somewhere."

"I swear, I just don't get it," Xander mumbled to himself.

"Later, Xander, we have Scooby business right now. But you will get plenty, later, I promise," said a passing Anya. She had obviously missed the entire line of conversation.

Xander suddenly sat straight up looking at the screen and asked, "Hey, who is the WWF blond giant with the pointy stick?" Xander pointed at the screen in a different place from the images of Buffy and Spike. No one had noticed the other individuals in the area because they had concentrated on the missing pair.

The group looked at the oddly dressed man that Xander had pointed out moments ago. He appeared to be pointing something in the direction of the missing slayer just before the scene went wonky.

"I'll try to clean up the picture and get in closer," promised Willow.

"Maybe we are on the trail, finally," Giles sighed in relief.

Joyce felt her last nerve fray and decided she needed to break the tension before it broke her. "Rupert, would you care for a drink?" "I could sure use one and figure you might too."

Giles nodded gratefully as she got down two glasses and a bottle of brandy, not his normal choice but it would do. God willing the drink would take the edge off and foreshadow a celebration soon to come.

Joyce started at the sound of breaking glass and looked down at the remains of a Martini glass shattered on her floor. Maybe not such a good time to be seeking omens after all.

It was another long night but at least the intrepid group now had something to go on. In fact it was promising enough that they had all drifted to different areas to seek whatever rest they might find.

Willow continued to try to coax more clues from the security video, the rest began to fall into exhausted slumber.

"Wow, it's a wonder it's not broken," the clerk said as she picked up the Snow globe from under the rack. "It's a pretty one too. Looks kinda' like the Matterhorn ride at Disney, only with Cinderella's castle on top. Think I'll put it in the back and buy it myself," she decided. Tina still regretted not getting the job at the Disney Store.


"Gah," screamed Buffy. "Was that an earthquake?" She clutched at Spike as the world began to spin and roll crazily. It was all the vampire could do to keep hold of her and the delicate grip he had on the rocky mountain wall. Another jolt like that and they'd be ass over teakettle down the way they had come!

Chapter 6

"There, see the weird tattoo on gorgeous George's hand? Looks like a goal post. It's a football cult! A pigskin worshiping cult of jocks! But what would a football cult get from making Buffy disappear? Maybe they needed a sacrifice for their team to win the next game," Xander hypothesized. He really was in need of serious sleep, they all were.

"It does kinda' look like a goal post. But I really don't think that sounds likely," said sensible Tara.

"Well of course it's not a goal post, silly," said Anya, "It's clearly a tattoo of a Hagalaz. Also called a Haegl or Hagall in Norse. It means hail in the Elder Futhark rune system. It can be considered negative but isn't always a bad thing."

"And how do you know that," asked an amazed Xander.

"Well I wasn't born yesterday, or in the United States for that matter. I don't know why someone would choose that for a tattoo. Seems a silly choice to me," Anya answered.

"Yeah,", quipped an exhausted Willow "it could rune a fella!" Everyone groaned at the bad pun but still felt a surge of hope with the new information Anya had supplied. Maybe now they'd make some progress.


Spike found a small cave in the mountain that even had some twigs. He'd noticed some larger pieces of wood down the rough natural path they had been on a short while earlier and had gone back to collect enough for a decent fire.

He was starting to worry about his brave girl. "Human, after all is said and done. Not meant for this cold. Probably hungry too," he thought. Well first things first. Warm his slayer up a bit, he would.

Buffy was grateful for the fire that Spike had made. She had started to think she would develop frostbite from this adventure. "Cold, not of the good for California girl," she said to herself. She was warming up a bit in the snug cave.

Hunger had stopped being an issue a couple of hours before. All those girls with eating disorders were right. You really did stop noticing hunger pangs after a while.

One thing she could no longer ignore was being more tired and achy then she could ever remember being.

She looked over at her companion and saw that he looked as tired as she did.

"Hey Spike, I don't feel right hogging your coat like this. The fire's nice and toasty, if you want it back I can deal," she offered.

Spike had been surprisingly resourceful and much kinder than she would have expected over the last few days. She'd never admit it, but she was glad for his company. She even enjoyed it. He had managed to take care of her without it coming across as though she was a weaker being in need of a keeper.

"Nah, slayer, I don't feel the cold. Vampire here, remember," he said. Then he smiled, not smirked, but smiled.

Buffy realized she'd never really seen him do that. He should more often; it lit up his eyes and made him look young and handsome. "God, did I just think that? I really need to get off this mountain and fast," Buffy thought.

"Tell you what, let's share," she heard herself say to her own horror.

Spike gaped at her in disbelief. Had she actually just offered to snuggle by the fire? With him? "Fella could get to like mountain climbing," he said to himself.

And that was how Idun found them.


"Mortals! On Skadi's sacred mountain! How can this be," Idun asked herself. She had come, along with three sister goddesses, for a holiday to Skadi's vacant summer home. They had soon discovered that they were trapped there by some enchantment or other. They did not worry about this. They were goddesses after all. The castle was well appointed, Idun even had a large supply of the rejuvenating apples that were her special gift to her fellow gods.

There was plenty of everything. Sooner or later they would be missed and Odin himself would discover their whereabouts.

Idun had sought a bit of time alone and gone for a hike when she smelled the fire and discovered the small cave.

"Intriguing," she thought, "The male is much older than he seems. Ahhhh, a vampire! How interesting! See how he holds the human in his arms so protectively as they sleep. And just see how she turns in his arms and nestles closer to him. Look how they both smile and sigh at the contact even while asleep."

Idun decided she had to waken the pair and take them to the castle. "I wonder what my sisters will make of them," she said with a chuckle.


Bjorn stood before the shaman and hung his head at the reproaches heaped upon him. "But sir, the enchanted globe was in the hands of someone. I couldn't just rip it from her and sprint from the shop could I? We did manage to get the chest back to the Forn Didr, and quickly, I might add. Surely the goddess is not that
angered with us," he said.

"What you did, was done well and in a timely way. But, it is unfinished. Our beautiful Skadi desires her home back so the enchantment can be broken and her mountain be placed back in Asgard where it belongs," the shaman stated.

"Take Sigfried with you and return to finish what you began," he ordered.


Spike and Buffy looked about in amazement. The long table was laden with enough food to even tempt Buffy. The goddesses were amused to find that this strange vampire chose to eat human food as well.

Sjofn looked confused and asked, "But do you not dine upon your consort?"

"What the hell does that mean?" demanded Buffy.

"No, my name is Sjofn. I am the goddess of domestic peace. HEL is the daughter of that trickster Loki, and she abides in the underworld. You young mortals know so little of us," she sighed sadly.

"No, I meant ..... why did you think Spike eats me?" Buffy asked. She blushed brightly at Spike's laugh and said, "Perhaps I should rephrase that."

"I dunno, luv, I'd kinda' like THAT question answered if it's left to me," he teased.

"Well, it is NOT left to you, you pig. Stop running to the gutter with every two words and maybe we'd get along better," she huffed.

Sjofn was further confused. They quite obviously cared for one another, had been traveling together. According to Idun they were snuggling quite happily when she had found them. Curious pair this human and vampire.

There was no mistaking the attraction they felt one for the other, or the looks they gave one another when they thought no one else could see ... especially when thinking the other did not see.

"I merely noted the marks on you neck, human, and assumed they belonged to your lover," Sjofn explained.

Spike nearly collapsed with laughter at the word 'lover'. Buffy flushed bright red and hit Spike in the nose, drawing blood. "Shut up Spike or I'll stake you where you stand. Big pile of dust all over the nice floor," she ground out between gritted teeth.

"Clearly you are having some sort of lover's quarrel. Perhaps I can help, as that is my specialty," the goddess offered.

"Oh, god, no! Or rather goddess," Buffy blurted out. "We are NOT lovers, not now, not ever." She glared at Spike as she said this to their hostess.

"Well, one sees what one wishes I suppose. You're young, there is time," Sjofn answered.

"Buffy only lets other vampires bite her," Spike said. "I'm on an animal only diet," he explained.

"I see," said Sjofn although she really did not. It was plain to see that this pair were perfectly matched and the fire between them was hot enough that it explained how they had stayed warm during their journey.

The girl was young but in time she would see her own heart. The handsome vampire already knew his if Sjofn were any judge of such things.

Sjofn would have to keep Lofn from using her powers on this pair. What they had was genuine and needed no tampering. In fact, if they interfered it could delay nature taking its course.

Lofn would just have to resist sparking passionate love between them. "A spark is all it WOULD take! The blaze would be seen all the way to Valhalla," the goddess laughed. "Mortals! ... and immortals for that matter," she shook her head at the self-deluded.

Her sister Lofn had the permission of Odin himself to spark passion wherever she willed. Even between those forbidden to marry. She would be hard to stop when it came to these two.

Perhaps she should send this Buffy with Fulla to see to Frigg's shoes until she had a chance to reason with Lofn.

When Fulla made the offer, Buffy was mystified but eager to join the goddess. Buffy was fascinated with Fulla's duties. "I never imagined a goddess whose job is to take care of shoes!" she had said on hearing it. "What a cool job! Do you get to try them on too?" she had asked.

Yes, this Buffy could be distracted for a time. Sjofn was pleased to have discovered the key to this human.

Sjofn had guessed right on another score as well. Her sister, Lofn, desperately wanted to create that little spark needed to get those fires flaming.

"But, my sister, if you DO, and she finds out, she will dismiss all of those feelings she does have and it will just take longer for the two to join their lives," Sjofn reasoned with her.

"Very well. But I shall have to keep my eye on them and take action later if they continue to dawdle. They shall make such a beautiful fire! You did notice, sister, that she is the Slayer, did you not? They tend to die quite young and she is wasting precious moments of joy. Much as I hate waste, my sister, I will bide for now," Lofn promised.

"Perhaps we shall send some of Idun's sacred apples with her to keep this Slayer young and rejuvenated beyond what is usual." Sjofn also felt pity for the young woman with such a bleak fate who seemed unwilling to grab hold of joy while she could.

"I shall also speak to Eir once we are no longer trapped in this enchantment and have her watch over this Buffy's health."

"A love as strong, and passion as hot as these two can have should have time to burn their saga in the very fabric of history."

All the sister goddesses nodded in agreement.

"There still is much we can do for these unexpected guests of ours," Lofn concluded.

"The eyes of the ancient gods and goddesses of the north shall be on them, I shall see to it," she vowed. She was always a sucker for real love. Nowadays it was a rare commodity.

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